Monday, March 14, 2011
WOLVES, CATERPILLARS, AND STORIES
What do hungry wolves, caterpillars, and stories have in common? They’re all works in progress, they’re all waiting for something satisfying. A small pack of wolves has been patrolling the perimeter of my back yard waiting for a meal of unsuspecting or injured venison. The wooly bear I saw recently is awaiting freedom to fly with butterfly wings. My latest story, “Trouble at Fish Camp,” is awaiting final edit so it can fly into the hands of readers everywhere. Hope abounds for writers and critters alike. Hope abounds for all of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. May hope in Christ abound in you.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Praise in the Process
Praise and thanks go hand in hand. It’s in our nature to thank someone for a gift after we receive it, not before. But it’s in the nature of God to cause us to praise and thank Him for things yet to come.
Take the story of the exiled Israelites who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon to restore their broken temple. Imagine the work ahead. They had to clear all the rubble before laying a new foundation. Not until then could the real work begin, that of rebuilding. They decided, however, to hold a praise and worship service after they laid the foundation—before beginning to rebuild.
“They sang praises and gave thanks to the Lord: ‘for He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” (Ezra 3:11)
Sounds backwards, doesn’t it? But this was an act of faith on their part. In essence, what they said was: “We praise You in the process of building. What You start, Lord, You finish.” Oh, to have the faith to praise and thank Him for hearing our prayers even before He answers them! The Bible says that faith is the evidence of things not seen.
In contrast to this story is that of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. They celebrated once they reached the safety of the other shore. What faith did that show? Some, perhaps, but how much more if they had celebrated before they crossed over?
We are meant to praise and thank God during good times and bad. While enduring sickness, grief, abandonment, or whatever, our praises to God will give us strength to carry us through the misery. Praise brings joy, and “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” according to Nehemiah 8:10. When we lose our joy, we lose our strength. When we lose our strength, we lose our power to defeat whatever enemy we face.
Thousands of Christians have testified that praising God has not only brought them deep, abiding joy, it has changed their outlook on life and the environment around them. They then could better finish any task, face any challenge, or solve any problem.
Lord, we praise and thank You in good times and bad. May our faith in You be strengthened through Your Word and Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.